You are browsing the archive for 2014 July 14.

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Why Did Krugman and Princeton Part Ways?

July 14, 2014 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

Forbes columnist Ralph Benko offers interesting speculation on this question.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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DEA May be Losing the War on Marijuana Politics

July 14, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

July 12, 2014

Los Angeles Times

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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USA Today Op-Ed: Give kids a second chance after drug crime

July 14, 2014 in Politics & Elections

A friend of mine’s brother was convicted of a felony for growing marijuana plants in his college dorm. Thirty years later he still can’t vote and his felony record prevents him from getting a good job.
Because of his story and others like it, I introduced bipartisan legislation to restore federal voting rights for non-violent offenders upon release from prison.
This week, I introduced another piece of legislation with Senator Cory Booker to make some reforms to the criminal justice system that will help non-violent individuals reintegrate into society and secure employment.
Both of these bills will reform existing federal law to allow low-level offenders a second chance. These ideas will both allow the restoration of the right to vote and the opportunity to remove a permanent blot preventing employment for those released after non-violent punishment.
First, we should restore voting rights to non-violent ex-offenders upon release, so they can vote in federal elections. This is an issue that I feel strongly about.
This past February, I testified before the Kentucky Senate to urge a Kentucky constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to many ex-offenders upon release.
The war on drugs has disproportionately affected men and women of color; minorities are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for certain nonviolent drug offenses, like drug possession, even though surveys show that white Americans use drugs at the similar rate. This is a travesty.
I think that drugs are a scourge and are bad for young people, but a lifetime in prison as punishment is not the answer.
The war on drugs has not lessened drug use. It has simply transformed a health problem into a prison problem, and ultimately an employment and voting rights problem.
While drug use is a problem, I also think it is a mistake to lock people up for 10, 20 or 40 years for youthful mistakes.
If you look at the war on drugs, most of the people locked up are minorities. Yet, drugs are being used by kids of all colors and from all socio-economic backgrounds. So, why is it then that prisons are loaded up with minorities who were prosecuted for drug crimes?
The answer is because it is easier to arrest kids who gather in the city rather than in the suburbs. There are more patrols in the city. We …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Academic Fraud and the Peer Review Process

July 14, 2014 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

The so-called “peer review process” is supposed to be the unimpeachable  guarantee that publications in academic journals have been chosen in accordance with the highest standards of  scientific integrity and quality.  The number of papers that an academic publishes in peer-reviewed journals and the number of times his or her articles are cited in other peer-reviewed articles are the main factors determining whether or not he or she  is promoted and awarded tenure.  Recently there occurred a particularly egregious abuse of the process.

The Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) is  a respected scientific  journal in the highly technical field of acoustics and a part of the reputable SAGE Group of academic publications.   JVC has recently retracted 60 published articles after uncovering the operation of a “peer review ring” among its authors and reviewers (“referees”)  Although is is not exactly clear how the scam worked, it appears to have been run by Peter Chen of the National Pingtung University of Education (NPUE) in Taiwan and probably involved other scientists at NPUE.   As best as can be determined, the ring posted up to 130 fabricated  names and fake email addresses on an online reviewing system called SAGE Track.  These bogus identities were used by the members of the ring to write  favorable reviews of one another’s submissions and send them to Ali H. Nayfeh, the Editor-in-Chief of JVC.   In at least one instance, it is believed, Peter Chen reviewed one of his own papers under an alias.

In May NPUE informed SAGE and JVC that Peter Chen had resigned from its faculty in February.  In the same month JVC announced that Nayfeh had “retired” as editor of the journal.  Nayfeh had initiated investigation of the ring in 2013.  A full report on the incident including the titles of all the retracted articles can be found here.

This  incident should not be surprising, however.  Knowledge that the peer review process is gravely flawed and easily abused is well known.  Richard Smith, the former editor of the respected British Medical Journal (BMJ), the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, characterized the “classic” peer review system as follows:

The editor looks at the title of the paper and sends it to two friends whom the editor thinks know something about the subject. If both advise publication the editor sends it to the printers. If both advise against publication the editor rejects the paper. If the reviewers …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Rebuilding Detroit

July 14, 2014 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

Everything valuable that economics textbooks describe as a “public good” has, at one time or another, been provided on the market by individuals and private firms. Even today, capitalists and entrepreneurs are rebuilding public spaces in Detroit, positive externalitites be damned:

Whether or not they’re expecting to profit, Gilbert and other capitalists — large and small — are trying to rebuild the city, even stepping in and picking up some duties that were once handled by the public sector. Shop owners around the city are cleaning up the blighted storefronts and public spaces around them. Only 35,000 of Detroit’s 88,000 streetlights actually work, so some owners are buying and installing their own. In Gilbert’s downtown, a Rock Ventures security force patrols the city center 24 hours a day, monitoring 300 surveillance cameras from a control center. Gilbert is proposing to pay $50 million for the land beneath the county courthouse and a partly built jail near his center-city casino, with the intention of moving the municipal buildings to a far-off neighborhood; his goal is to clear the way for an entertainment district that flows south, without interruption, from the sports arenas past his casino and into downtown. Detroit’s new mayor, Mike Duggan, told me he had no problem with the private sector doing so much to shape his city: Other metropolises had their entrepreneurs and deep-pocketed magnates who built and bought and financed things. With a state-appointed emergency manager overseeing various aspects of Detroit’s operations, with many civic services inoperable for years and with a dire need for investment, Duggan said he felt lucky that his town was getting its turn.

Thanks to Craig Newmark for the pointer.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Remembering John Seigenthaler

July 14, 2014 in History

July 14, 2014 10:17 a.m.

The first time I met John Seigenthaler, I asked for ten minutes of his time. He talked to me for three hours. When I told his assistant Gay how grateful I was, she simply said, “That’s John. He loves to tell stories.”

It was 2010, and I was in Nashville for a public television conference. I was also in full-blown planning mode for American Experience’s Student Freedom Ride—a journey that would bring together college students and original Freedom Riders to commemorate the 1961 crusade for equality in interstate travel.

Nearly fifty years before, Mr. Seigenthaler was serving as the special assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy when the administration dispatched him to the south as tensions between the young Freedom Riders and angry white southerners hit a breaking point. At the Kennedy brothers’ request, Mr. Seigenthaler traveled to Alabama in an attempt to diffuse what was rapidly becoming a very dangerous situation for civil rights workers. But his federal authority proved no match for the violence the Freedom Riders met in Montgomery. He too became a target, and while attempting to protect the Riders, he was hit over the head with a pipe and landed in the hospital.

The purpose of my visit was to ask him if he’d talk with our Student Freedom Riders when we passed through Nashville a few months later. But when I walked out of his office, his agreeing to meet with our students was almost a footnote to our visit. Over the course of three hours he told me how he came to know Robert Kennedy when, as a journalist in Nashville, he appealed to RFK to investigate corruption among the local Teamsters. He told me of the responsibility he felt to return to journalism years later, rather than staying on in what many would consider a very privileged role in the Kennedy administration. And he explained how, through his work in politics and journalism, he came to have a deep empathy for the civil rights workers. With an equal measure of pride, he showed me the letter his grandson Jack wrote to the president with a well-reasoned plea for the US to convert to the metric system.

Two years later, I was in his office again. This time, filmmaker Susan Bellows and I had traveled to Nashville to interview Mr. Seigenthaler …read more

Source: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

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Politico Op-Ed: Rick Perry Is Dead Wrong

July 14, 2014 in Politics & Elections

There are many things I like about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, including his stance on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. But apparently his new glasses haven’t altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly.
There are obviously many important events going on in the world right now, but with 60,000 foreign children streaming across the Texas border, I am surprised Governor Perry has apparently still found time to mischaracterize and attack my foreign policy.
Governor Perry writes a fictionalized account of my foreign policy so mischaracterizing my views that I wonder if he’s even really read any of my policy papers.
In fact, some of Perry’s solutions for the current chaos in Iraq aren’t much different from what I’ve proposed, something he fails to mention. His solutions also aren’t much different from President Barack Obama’s, something he also fails to mention. Because interestingly enough, there aren’t that many good choices right now in dealing with this situation in Iraq.
Perry says there are no good options. I’ve said the same thing. President Obama has said the same thing. So what are Perry’s solutions and why does he think they are so bold and different from anyone else’s?
He writes in the Washington Post, “the president can and must do more with our military and intelligence communities to help cripple the Islamic State. Meaningful assistance can include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sharing and airstrikes.”
The United States is actually doing all of this now. President Obama has said he might use airstrikes in the future. I have also been open to the same option if it makes sense.
I support continuing our assistance to the government of Iraq, which include armaments and intelligence. I support using advanced technology to prevent ISIS from becoming a threat. I also want to stop sending U.S. aid and arms to Islamic rebels in Syria who are allied with ISIS, something Perry doesn’t even address. I would argue that if anything, my ideas for this crisis are both stronger, and not rooted simply in bluster.
If the governor continues to insist that these proposals mean I’m somehow “ignoring ISIS,” I’ll make it my personal policy to ignore Rick Perry’s opinions.
But the governor and I do have at …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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How the Drug War Drives Child Migrants to the US Border

July 14, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6810

Mises Daily Monday by Mark Thornton

An increasing percentage of migrants to the US-Mexican border are from Central American countries. It is not merely a coincidence that these same areas have been devastated by the American war on drugs, which has destroyed economies and increased crime in much of the region.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How Congress Lost Control of Government Spending

July 14, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Did you know that the portion of the federal budget that Congress actually votes on (the discretionary budget) has been falling for years?

The so-called “entitlements,” such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and Obamacare, take a larger and larger portion of the total federal budget each year. Former U.S. Treasury economist Eugene Steuerle, now at the Urban Institute, has created a Fiscal Democracy Index, which measures “the extent to which past and future projected revenues are already claimed by the permanent programs that are now in place.” In 1965, these programs claimed about 35 percent of the federal budget; now they claim about 85 percent of the budget, and they will soon claim more than 100 percent of total tax revenue.

Incremental expansion of programs now drains off almost every dollar.”

Mr. Steuerle is now out with a new book, “Dead Men Ruling,” which explains how we got into the budget mess and the consequences of it. He writes: “In recent decades, both parties have conspired to create and expand a series of public programs that automatically grow so fast that they claim every dollar of additional tax revenue that the government generates each year. … Unlike reaching the moon, rejuvenating the economy, winning a war, or curing a disease, none of these permanent programs are designed to achieve goals or solve problems once and for all. Almost all of them simply maintain, and often perpetually increase, subsidies for some pattern of consumption — overpriced health care, more years in retirement, or bigger McMansions.”

Government is growing not only in absolute terms, but also in relative terms. Much of this growth in spending has little to do with reducing poverty. Total government spending for social welfare tops $30,000 per household, but the poverty line for a family of three is $19,500. “So, as a nation we already spend far more than necessary to give everyone incomes well above the poverty line, if we wanted to do so,” Mr. Steuerle notes. By reducing the discretionary fiscal budget as a share of total government spending, policymakers now have less ability to fight emergencies. Elected officials have created their own “prisoner’s dilemma” where they rightly conclude they may be defeated if they either impose the necessary spending cuts or raise taxes. The income tax was created in 1913, Social Security in 1935, and Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 — and these actions created the current mess. Rather …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Blasphemous Oppression in the Name of Islam: Hold Pakistan Accountable for Persecuting Religious Minorities

July 14, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The world is aflame. Religious minorities are among those who suffer most from increasing conflict. Pakistan is one of the worst homes for non-Muslims. The U.S. government should designate that nation as a “Country of Particular Concern” for failing to protect religious liberty, the most basic right of conscience.

Religious persecution is a global scourge. Many of the worst oppressors are Muslim nations. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iraq, and Egypt are all important international actors. All also mistreat, or acquiesce in the mistreatment of, anyone not a Muslim. Some of them even victimize Muslims—of the wrong variety. (In Syria it is opponents of the government which do most of the persecuting.)

Islamabad is another frequent offender. The most recent State Department report on religious liberty in Pakistan noted that “The constitution and other laws and policies officially restrict religious freedom and, in practice, the government enforced many of these restrictions. The government’s respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom continued to be poor.”

Minority faiths face violent attack. Believers are killed, churches are bombed, buses are attacked, homes are destroyed, social gatherings are targeted. Warned the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its recent report: “In the past year, conditions hit an all-time low due to chronic sectarian violence targeting mostly Shia Muslims but also Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus.” Last year the Commission cited a spike in violence against Shiites as well as “numerous attacks against innocent Pakistanis” of other religions.

A state which fails to protect the right of individuals to respond to their belief (or unbelief) in God is more likely to leave other essential liberties unprotected.”

Although Islamabad did not launch these assaults, it did little to prevent or redress them. Even when scores or more are killed at a time there often is no effective response. Explained State: “The government’s limited capacity and will to investigate or prosecute the perpetrators of increasing extremist attacks against religious minorities and on members of the Muslim majority promoting tolerance, allowed the climate of impunity to continue.” Indeed, top government officials have been gunned down for defending freedom of conscience.

The most common tool of persecution may be a charge of blasphemy. Said USCIRF: “The country’s blasphemy laws, used predominantly in Punjab province, but also nationwide, target members of religious minority communities and dissenting Muslims and frequently result in imprisonment.” Two years ago a mentally …read more

Source: OP-EDS